Hidden Sugars

News Straits Time

Identify added sugars* in your children's diet

Experts say that that 80% of children who are obese beyond their first 10 years will go on to become overweight adults. Depending on age, the daily intake of sugar for children is between 3 – 8 teaspoons but many consumer much more than that, sometimes up to 10 times more. Experts say high-sugar diet is the leading cause of the increasing rate of childhood obesity. Consultant dietitian Indra Balaratnam said that sugar is important for energy but too much isn’t good. She also said that sugar is added to foods during manufacturing process for taste and flavour. Once children are exposed early to sugar, it will be difficult to break the habit. Processed food are also empty calories, high in sugar without much nutrients and consuming too much of this will increase the ricks for obesity, type- 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. Indra also further said that when children consumer a diet high in sugar they do not get enough nutrients, leading to micronutrient deficiency which hampers growth and development. Is it therefore important for us and parents to steer children towards better choices, set good examples and when they do well at school, do not reward them with unhealthy food and to read food labels if there are hidden sugars.

Professor Yazid Jalaludin shared that childhood obesity has increased to 12% compared to 6% in 2011 based on the National Health & Morbidity Survey (NHMS) - this means that one in three children below 18 os overweight and obese. He also shared that 9.8% of children between six months to 12 years were obese based on the Nationwide Nutrition Survey. Childhood obesity is also a concern because children face the risk of type-2 diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular diseases. Last year 12 children were diagnosed with type-2 diabetes at his clinic and most were 12 and 13 years old. Besides food intake, other factors including lack of physical activity, genetics and intergenerational cycle.

Publication: New Straits Times, Life & Times, page 1-4